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Minnesota Hot Tubs

Posted in Dealer Spotlight

Stationed in the Pacific Northwest as a member of the Coast Guard during the 1970’s, Rick Liskow realized he needed to set a plan for his future.  He began selling waterbeds during his off-duty hours, eventually opening a storefront. 

Upon his discharge in 1979, he moved back to his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota, establishing his waterbed and mattress business there.  Liskow gradually added auxiliary product lines to his store, maturing the business into a specialty sleep store with traditional mattresses, furniture and other sleep accessories. 

Around 1985, Liskow spotted an industry trend of adding hot tubs to the sleep store product mix. He brought in his first hot tub to see if it would work in the Rochester market. Hot tubs quickly became an entire department of his mattress store and eventually needed expanded floor space.  Adding more store locations in Mankato, Lakeville and his brand new Superstore in Woodbury/Lake Elmo has allowed him to differentiate the locations between mattresses, hot tubs and even specific manufacturers. 

The new Woodbury/Lake Elmo site is a ‘test’ store with 2 distinct stores within one business.  Based on how this location performs, he will consider incorporating this approach into his other stores.  Spa Retailer, a hot tub industry magazine, recently showcased the new store in their October, 2016 issue.  Click here to read the article. 

Currently Minnesota Hot Tubs has 6 locations, 4 of which sell hot tubs. Liskow feels his business stands out from the competition due to being in the industry for almost 40 years.  Over the years he has seen many competitors come and go but Minnesota Hot Tubs weathered the economic cycles and is known as a stable and reliable business within the greater Rochester area.  

Liskow enjoys what he does. He relates that while some of the most challenging times have been weathering harsh economic climates he finds personnel management more puzzling. “I can figure out the business stuff but I’m still learning to manage chaos and drama within the regiments,” he quips.  Liskow manages the chaos with an entrepreneurial vision, quiet demeanor and a wicked sense of humor.

“2017 is going to be an interesting year,” states Liskow. “I think we’re heading back to the type of growth we experienced in 2006.” He bases this statement on the sales trends and solid growth he has observed within the last few years.

Liskow is very excited to have Nordic Hot Tubs in the showroom again.  “It’s a great marriage of quality Nordic products and Minnesota Hot Tubs’ longevity in the industry,” he states.  He knows Nordic Hot Tubs has the consistency of quality, durability and long product life that he demands from his vendors. “And, we love your truck drivers!  Those guys are great!” Liskow adds with a laugh.

When asked if he has advice for other dealers, Liskow quips, “Set your dealerships up in a warmer climate! This morning was cold…12 below when I came to work!”  He quickly adds, “Seriously, though, if you are going to grow, the hardest thing to do is get your people to give customers the appreciation and respect you did when you were a smaller business.  Growth is good, but if you get too big your business can become less flexible.  Stay flexible!”

Contact Liskow and the Minnesota Hot Tubs Sales Team through the website or find them on Facebook!
      minnesota hot tubs logoMinn HTWoodbury LakeElmo Ext winter BESTMinnesota Hot Tubs newest location in Woodbury/Lake Elmo, MN.

Minn HTWoodbury LakeElmo Interior BESTThe interior of the Woodbury/Lake Elmo location.
Minn HT Lakeville SMMinnesota Hot Tubs in Lakeville, MN.
Minn HTLandODr ExteriorThe original Land-O-Dreams/ Minnesota Hot Tubs location in Rochester, MN.
 

     

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Hotwater Works

Posted in Dealer Spotlight

In 1978 James McFarland, from Lansing, Michigan was pursuing an interest in building Japanese soaking tubs and personal  spas. “We would purchase a 6-person spa shell, plumb it and trench all the way back to the house to connect it to a pool pack, usually located in the customer’s basement,” states McFarland. 

Building hot tubs back then was a long and arduous process. He wanted to develop a more portable style of hot tub but couldn’t find anything suitable for what he had in mind. Until one day, he happened to see a hot tub on a trailer going past him on the highway. “I whipped my truck around and chased him down,” laughs McFarland. Little did he know that the person pulling the hot tub was trying to find him!  From those beginnings, Hotwater Works has built a solid reputation as a hot tub retailer in the mid-Michigan area.

Currently, Hotwater Works employs around 8 full-time employees and specializes in hot tubs, water chemistry and service. “We take great care of our customers AND their water chemistry,” states McFarland.  One of the critical issues McFarland feels the hot tub industry needs to better address is water chemistry and conservation.  “The industry recommends that customers drain their tubs at least twice to 4 times a year,” he states. “Think about it!  That’s at least 2,000 gallons of water…OR MORE…per customer each year that is wasted…needlessly!” He is frustrated that customers are given too much conflicting information regarding how to maintain the water chemistry of their hot tub.  To clarify this issue, McFarland has personally developed a water chemistry and care program, which is scheduled to be published. 

As an entrepreneur and business owner, McFarland needs new challenges to keep life interesting.  “The biggest obstacle I face is boredom,” he exclaims. “I like challenges.  I need to do new things and grow…develop new ideas!”  To that end, he has plans to take Hotwater Works and his water chemistry program into the national arena within the next year. 

Hotwater Works became a Nordic Dealer Partner around 20 years ago, very soon after Nordic Hot Tubs began.  McFarland is happy with the relationship he and Nordic share. “Nordic has consistent quality but it’s in the Service that they really excel.  I love the people we work with,” he states. “[Nordic] is just a rock solid tub in the industry.”

Specializing in hot tubs for almost 40 years, McFarland has had a couple of things that haven’t worked as well as he had planned.  He offers this advice to other dealers, “Don’t be afraid to quit something that isn’t working. Let it go.”  When asked if he has any other advice, he quips, “Besides buy my water chemistry program? Take care of your customers! They are your bread and butter…actually they are your gold mine! It’s cheaper to take care of them in the long run!”

McFarland and the Hotwater Works Sales Team can be contacted through the website or find them on Facebook!

      HWW LogoHWW StorefrontHotwater Works located at
2116 E Michigan Avenue, Lansing MI.

 





     
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Ratliff Pool Center

Posted in Dealer Spotlight

Thirty-nine years ago, Penny and Bobby Ratliff decided to have an in-ground swimming pool installed in their backyard.  During the process, the company they purchased the pool from asked if they would be interested in selling pools for them. As Penny states, “We thought that might be something we could do!” As it turned out, it was something they could do very well….they sold 27 pools that first year!  Based on their success, the Ratliff’s struck out on their own and have never looked back.

With two locations in Ohio, one on Eastern Avenue in Gallipolis and the second on East Main Street in Jackson, Ratliff Pool Center’s 15 employees are available to help with any pool or hot tub need their customers may have.  Specializing in pools and hot tubs makes Penny happy and keeps her company ahead of the competition.  “We have a fun niche,” she states with a laugh. “We love what we do! We are a happy store!”

Ratliff Pool Center is known throughout the Gallipolis/Jackson area for their quality and reliability.  “We don’t do anything low-end,” says Penny. 

Penny is hard pressed to identify obstacles they have faced as a business.  “The products we carry are in demand. We get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals,” she states.  The referrals come from the hard work put in by their Sales Team through to the Delivery and Installation Crews.  It’s this dedication and attention to detail that makes Ratliff Pool Center worthy of the high praise from their clients. “We do whatever we can to make happy customers,” states Penny.  And they are doing something right as 2016 was another great year! “Next year we look forward to making even more happy customers,” she adds with her ebullient laugh.

Ratliff Pool Center has carried Nordic Hot Tubs since Nordic began.  She is very pleased with the way Nordic fits into their philosophy of carrying only quality, highly reliable products.  “If anything breaks on a Nordic, it’s simple to fix!” she states. “Maintenance and service costs are minimal.”

Penny operates her business under this principle, “Be kind, because in the end, only kindness matters!” She knows that treating her customers with courtesy, kindness and respect keeps Ratliff Pool Center standing tall within the local area, the business community and within the pool and spa industry.

Penny and Bobby Ratliff and the Ratliff Pool Center Team can be contacted through the website.  Also, find them on Facebook!

      Ratliff Logo CROPRatliff Storefront w PennyPenny Ratliff and Santa are ready to get you into Hot Water Therapy!